LiFT Scholarship Winners Put Linux Skills to Work Helping Others


Marie Drottar, 62, of the United States, is one of two recipients of the 2017 Linux Foundation Training (LiFT) Scholarships in the Women in Open Source category. The LiFT scholarships provide advanced training in open source to existing and aspiring IT professionals globally. 

Marie Drottar
Drottar is a clinical research specialist in the neonatal neuroimaging department at Boston Children’s Hospital, and she said a big part of her job is conducting neuroimaging data analysis.

“Enabling my skills in large batch processing of imaging data using Linux scripting will enhance my teaching skills in training new research assistants, post-doctoral employees, and medical/fellowship students, the large majority of whom are women,’’ she noted in her scholarship application.

Drottar said she hopes to use open source to analyze larger and larger volumes of data and make predictive models for health care and early intervention studies with infants and children.

Jona Azizaj
Jona Azizaj, 24, of Albania, is the other scholarship recipient in the Women in Open Source category. Azizaj is in her final year studying business informatics at the University of Tirana. She has been involved in open source for four years now, starting by contributing to Fedora, and is now involved with LibreOffice, Mozilla, Wikipedia, OpenStreetMap, Nextcloud, and more.

“When I started attending some conferences with other Fedora ambassadors I was the only girl on the team,’’ Azizaj wrote in her scholarship application. This was the impetus for her to want to work to tighten the gender gap that she has witnessed in other open source communities.

“But in Albania, at the Open Labs Hackerspace, the situation at my local community is completely different, because more than 70 percent of the members are girls,’’ she explained. “That’s why I think that this training will help me even more to help the girls of my local hackerspace to start their first contributions on different open source communities.”

Badri Basnet
The Linux Foundation also awarded two scholarships in the Developer Do Gooder category. The recipients are Badri Basnet, 65, of Australia, and Pedro Guarderas, 33, of Ecuador.

Basnet uses Ubuntu, along with an open source Geographic Information Systems (GIS) software, QGIS, and open source learning management system Moodle. He said he is using all of these systems to develop hands-on GIS learning resources and to teach GIS skills to undergraduates at the University of Southern Queensland, in addition to volunteering to educate others about GIS.

“The Linux training scholarship will help me to expand this work further by providing the additional skills necessary for making effective use of open source operating systems, open source software, and open source learning management systems for developing open source QGIS software,’’ he wrote in his scholarship application. Additionally, he said the scholarship would enhance his ability to improve hands-on GIS learning resources.

Pedro Guarderas
Guarderas started with open source by creating a plugin for QuantumGIS with Qt and C++. Since then, his interest in open source development increased, and he has gained experience with Debian, C++, R, Python, Fortran, SQL, Git, and several scientific libraries.

“I have worked extensively developing mathematical models, and many have been employed inside the government and private sector in Ecuador,” he said, and the impact of these models has reached thousands of people.  “Today I am deeply interested in knowing more about the Linux deep details; in particular, I am interested in distributed or parallel programming.”

Guarderas hopes to expand his knowledge and develop new scientific applications with high-quality standards.

Now in its seventh year, LiFT initiative has awarded more than $168,000 in training scholarships. This year, a record 1,238 applications were received for 14 scholarships. The Linux Foundation also supports a variety of community initiatives and organizations to help advance free and open source software and increase diversity in technology and the open source community. The Foundation offers training and event scholarships, and works with organizations such as Women Who Code and Goodwill to further these efforts.

Learn more about the LiFT Scholarship program from The Linux Foundation.